Fact in my Fiction, and Fantasy in Reality By Emilie Mayer

This -January 3rd, 2022- marks the first week of Creative Writing 2’s creative nonfiction unit. Going into this unit, I felt a sort of reserved hesitancy. I started writing stories during my recesses in elementary school because the playground noises felt dangerous. I built myself fortresses out of fiction, writing multiple-part stories in which a young, dazzlingly beautiful, charismatically brave girl makes friends with the world and wins the affections of all. 

In a nonfiction piece, that little girl would be best friends with her teacher. In a nonfiction piece, a teenage writer would spend more time at home or at her minimum wage job than seeing any great expanse. I don’t write nonfiction, not because I don’t respect the craft of it, but because I worry that my life might be too boring. 

In a fiction piece or even in poetry, I can translate my emotions into scenarios removed from myself. Exhaustion becomes applicable to a knight burdened by duty rather than a student and writer struggling through deadlines and AP classes. In poetry, I can write floral declarations of sentiment and take comfort that their surrealism distracts from my genuine experiences.  

All this to say, I had my first non-fiction deadline this weekend and had no idea what to write about. I wouldn’t call my life eventful, and as a person in general, I have issues with sharing. In order to begin the process of my looming piece, I sat by my computer and typed. And type. And typed. And forty-five minutes later, I had a semi-coherent essay about my fear of greater emotions. From that essay of about three pages, I selected one scene -about a paragraph long- to become the foundation for my new piece. 

I am still in the midst of a complicated relationship with nonfiction, but what I have decided after an arduous weekend of writing is: nonfiction, or at least for now, does not have to be lofty. My piece is about a fifth grade trip to a planetarium– rather than my inability to love. If I start with small instances, the greater thematics of my life will reveal themselves as subtext. 

My life in its entirety does not have to be interesting. I just need to find small instances, moments, breathes in between larger structures to build a narrative about myself. 

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